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How were you affected by snow of winter 82-83

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How were you affected by snow of winter 82-83

Postby oldranger » Tue Apr 27, 2010 3:18 pm

Thanks to the sites posted by Eric today I could see that the amount of precipitation in the Sierra this year, while more than average is significantly less than that of 82-83. That year I did the short trans-sierra trip from Onion Valley to Cedar Grove in early May. We had to walk/ski the last couple miles to the old Onion Valley Guard Station (later demolished by an avalanche). From there to Charlotte Lake Ranger Station there was 100% snow cover and the station was just a bump in the snow with a hole dropping to the door, dug by the snow survey crew a couple of days earlier. We spent the next day tellying the slopes around Charlotte. The last day we skied down to Vidette Meadow and then on down to the Sphinx Creek Bridge where we had to take off our skis and walk the rest of the way. Shortly after June 1 of that year I skied into my ranger station at Rowell Meadow. I think the snow averaged about 5ft. deep then. Near the end of June the road past Big Meadow had not been opened yet, so I started my rangering by hiking to Pear Lake then skiing from Pear Lake to Crescent Lake. The next day I postholed through the forest and crossed the park boundary heading for Rowell just n. of the Belle Canyon entrance. I finally found a blaze and located the trail but it was about 70% snow covered until I got to the level of Rowell. At the old snow survey cabin that was my station there were still some significant stashes of snow so I was able to enjoy frozen daiquiris near the station for a couple of weeks. After learning that the road to the Sunset Trailhead would not be open for the 4th of July (meaning no visitors) I contacted the Roaring River Ranger, Duncan Hollar, and we decided to climb Mt. Brewer on the 4th. The biggest adventure of the trip occurred when I almost lost it fording Sugarloaf Creek. Since then all my early season forays into the area utilized a log crossing about 1/2 mile downstream. Roaring River was, in fact, roaring when I arrived. The next day we took the old trail that heads se from the Avalanche Pass Trail at the top of the moraine--at the time there was even an old sign. When I became the Roaring River Ranger I learned that it was much easier to stay on the Avalanche Pass trail another 1/2 mile or so then just head s up a shallow valley formed between lateral moraines until I intercepted the trail. Our route was mostly snow free until we got to Big Brewer Lake where we spent the night. Big Brewer was still frozen. The next day involved some pretty tedious postholing until we got to the saddle s. of Brewer. The s. ridge was clear of snow and it was a piece of cake to the summit

While I know there is still more snow to fall and we don't know how fast the snow will melt my guess is that you should not count on snowpack sustaining significant streamflows in relatively low s. facing basins (N. Yosemite and Granite Creek areas come to mind) this year.

Planning and guessing is half the fun.

Mike
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Re: How were you affected by snow of winter 82-83

Postby jimqpublic » Wed Apr 28, 2010 1:52 pm

I graduated from Owens Valley High School June of 1983. My parents didn't let me do solo trips before then. The next day I set off on a two week solo bike tour. After getting back I went on my first solo backpack trip over July 4 weekend.

Leaving South Lake I followed the trail to the snowline at around 11,000'. For the next three days I never set foot on anything other than snow or rock until shortly before reaching the Glacier Lodge trailhead. Nor did I see another person except a helicopter doing a search. (Hiker had lost his eyeglasses and couldn't read map nor make out much terrain- he wandered out to a westside trailhead 10 days overdue without meeting a single person)

If my memory serves correct, my route took me over Bishop Pass, through the upper Dusy Basin, over Thunderbolt Pass, Potluck Pass, Chimney Pass, and South Fork Pass to the South Fork of Big Pine Creek.

That trip always comes to mind when people imply that trails will be snow-free by the time school gets out.
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Re: How were you affected by snow of winter 82-83

Postby Wild Bill » Mon May 03, 2010 8:17 am

I guess by replying to this post, it makes me an "oldtimer."

I went XC skiing up Rock Creek Canyon in '83. I remember seeing the paths of many substantial avalanches, unlike anything I had ever seen before. What really got my attention, was after the avalanches reached the bottom of the canyon, they had enough force to go uphill and knock over large lodgepole pines. The trees all fell "uphill." I saw major damage to the Mosquito Flat restroom buildings; steel doors bent, roof timbers damaged.

It was a great ski season! I skied to Morgan Pass and back in July.

Summer hiking revealed many more trees knocked down in avalanches, all over.
That's what I remember....lotsa avalanches!
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Re: How were you affected by snow of winter 82-83

Postby gdurkee » Mon May 03, 2010 8:51 am

Jeez, Mike: slow day at the computer? Rain/slush outside and you can't go anywhere??

Of course, I'm too young to have experienced the great winters of '82 & '83 (both high snow years) but I've heard stories! There was a grizzled old McClure ranger and his wife who skied across Evolution Lake and into McGee Lakes in early July and then skied Darwin Canyon around July 6th.

In '82, this same grizzled ranger was coming down to McGee Lakes on skis with his soon-to-be-bride behind him. Waiting below watching her come down, she went onto a shelf where she disappeared from sight, followed by some loud words and then a pair of skis come flying up into the air with no one attached to them.

End of the ski season.

There were some other great ski trips in better conditions earlier that winter, though darned if I can remember the stories told me.

g.
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Re: How were you affected by snow of winter 82-83

Postby giantbrookie » Mon May 03, 2010 9:48 pm

I wasn't doing the number of trips in 1983 that I did in the peak years with Judy from 1991-2000, so I don't recall being thwarted or inconvenienced by the mammoth snow pack. My notes say that I didn't catch my first high country fish of 1983 until July 21, and this is out of Lower Lamarck Lake, but I don't think I went out early that year.

I have somewhat more dramatic memories of 1969 and 1995, though. I remember climbing Sawtooth Peak (Mineral King) on August 2, 1969 (reason I remember the date is because that's my birthday) and seeing Columbine Lake completely frozen over on the other side. Amphitheater was frozen over too. In 1995 7-26 to 7-29 we hiked over Graveyard Pass and back. We had audibled to this after Judy photographed the Sierra on a business trip flight and I found that my first choice spots were frozen over. As of that time it turned out most of lakes in the lower elevation area we chose were still frozen over: all of the Graveyard Lakes were frozen over. Judy took a dramatic fall off of a cornice crossing over the pass (fortunately without injury although she slid and tumbled an elevation drop of over 100 feet). All of Minnow Creek drainage lakes were frozen over. Wilbur May was 99.5 percent frozen over but I caught a few nice fish out of a small thawed edge. Only Grassy, Marsh, Scoop, and the lower of the Lost Keys Lakes were actually thawed. I remember doing our "season closer" at the end of October of that year and still finding snow patches even in the northernmost "low Sierra" (Warren Lake and environs)--normally snow is long gone there in August.
Since my fishing (etc.) website is still down, you can be distracted by geology stuff at: http://www.fresnostate.edu/csm/ees/facu ... ayshi.html
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Re: How were you affected by snow of winter 82-83

Postby SSSdave » Mon May 03, 2010 10:31 pm

I was skiing alot that winter about the north Tahoe resorts and recall it was hard to drive up as alot of side roads were blocked and facilites and all not dug out so quickly. Of course there was the horrible avalanche trajedy at Alpine Meadows at the end of that season.

I did 5 backpacks in 1980, 11 in 1981, 6 in 1982, but only 2 in the summer of 1983 that had more to do with a new job without accrued vacation. Those were the years when I first got serious about photography that at the time was 35mm film. Over the Independence Day holiday, three of us backpacked 3 days up from Bear Diversion Dam into the area of pools above Twin Falls that is well away from the trail. An area I'd been to a couple times before. The two that came with me carried up a 12-pack of beer. We were there to fish and enjoy. Well the creek was really high and the falls in that area roaring. Fishing was mostly impossible until I found a side channel upstream where a bunch of fish from that zone all seemed to be holed up out of the main current. One in our group Steve, kept casting his line into tree limbs the whole trip that had we other two rolling on the granite laughing each time he'd cast. Another funny thing was each sunny day the snow would melt and the creek rose but of course there is a delay. Well they made this rock corral for their beer cans the first day and guess what? While they were off fishing it rose over their rock wall and half of their beer floated away haha. The most memorial event of that trip was one of those larger earthquakes, a 5 point something occurred over at Mammoth midday and lasted several seconds. That area has considerable bedrock granite and there are erratics both small and large about atop it. When the earthquate occurred there was this grating rocking roaring sound of all those erratics rolling about.
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Re: How were you affected by snow of winter 82-83

Postby dave54 » Sun May 09, 2010 1:47 pm

As I recall it was a normal year until the April Fools Day storm. That storm dumped 6 feet in my yard overnight. The higher elevations never did get snow free that summer. A few of the higher lakes in Lassen Park had ice cover all summer.
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Re: How were you affected by snow of winter 82-83

Postby hikerchick395 » Mon May 10, 2010 10:14 am

At first I misread the dates...thinking of 92-93, when 10 feet of snow fell during the winter at Rovana.

Rereading...ahh, the summer of '83. Over Memorial weekend, backpacked to Little Yosemite Valley and went no further. The camp was 1/2 open...either under snow or river water.

On the 4th of July holiday, was in Yosemite again. Dayhiked up the Snow Creek trail and were stopped by snow cover near the top. This was the day of the aforementioned earthquake and as we sat on a boulder, enjoying a snack and looking at the people across on Half Dome, we started shaking. We lept off of the rock then looked across to Half Dome. There weren't as many folks near the edge anymore.

Our big trip was in August. (13-18) We hiked up over Bishop Pass, then over what some call Isoceles Pass over to Barrett Lakes. Were pinned down with a storm (it rained every day the entire trip.) I remember that there was more than 50% snow cover. Returned via Thunderbolt Pass and a stay at Lake 11393. It poured at Long Lake on our last night.
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Re: How were you affected by snow of winter 82-83

Postby John Dittli » Mon May 24, 2010 5:20 pm

Well, we were living and working at 8,600 feet on the Eastside (Tamarack Lodge at Twin Lakes, Mammoth Lakes). We were snowed in for a total of 35 days that winter, one continuous two week stretch. Cabins were buried, cars were buried, didn't lose any people though many had to be evacuated.
Lots of shoveling, not much cross country skiing (to deep). Did a high ski traverse of the Ritter Range that May, plenty of coverage,
Attachments
'83 digging out.jpg
digging out cars at Tamarack Lodge '83
'83 loader LMR.jpg
Digging out after a storm, Lake Mary road 83'
'83 Tamarack.jpg
2nd story windows going under, Tamarack Lodge '83
Walk the Sky: Following the John Muir Trail
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Re: How were you affected by snow of winter 82-83

Postby texan » Tue May 25, 2010 3:28 pm

I remember the winter of 94-95 more than 82-83. Mammoth mtn was open until mid-August(95) and I was living in Colorado waiting to go to the Sierras for my annual backpacking fishing trip. We went on the trip on last week in August and because was too much snow in the backcountry. When we finally went on the trip and made it to my favorite backcounty lake my friend caught the biggest trout I have ever seen in the backcounty. It was a 22" hooked jaw male brook trout that must have been 5lbs or more. It looked like those big browns caught from Lower Twin but smaller in size. My frined released the fish but I will never forget how much snow was in the backcounty that year and especially the size of that BROOKIE!!!!

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